NVAX stock was rallying after a poor earnings report. Specifically, the company missed on the top and bottom lines.
At the time, I was under the impression that the company might benefit from the need for a Covid-19 vaccine in other countries.
At the time, I felt that there would be limited use for the company’s vaccine candidate in the United States. I based that on the fact that there are already three approved vaccines in the United States.
However, a reader corrected me and suggested that the company’s vaccine might indeed reduce vaccine hesitancy in the United States.
If that’s true, then NVAX stock may have much more upside than I previously imagined.
Comfort in the Familar
As the reader reminded me, Novavax is a protein sub-unit vaccine. In the case of the company’s vaccine candidate, the protein subunit is the Covid-10 spike protein around a dead cold virus.
This is intended to give the recipient T cell and B cell immunity to the protein, in contrast to the mRNA vaccines by Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) and Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) that are giving your body instructions to build the protein at the cellular level.
But the other, and perhaps larger benefit to the protein sub-unit vaccine is that it’s the same type of vaccine that has been used in vaccines for Hepatitis and Petussis since the 1980s. The safety profile of these vaccines is well accepted. The reader’s thinking is that this familiarity would make millions of the unvaccinated more accepting of the Novavax vaccine.
In a world where the familiar is often viewed with contempt, it’s interesting that the compelling benefit for Novavax is that it’s a vaccine that is familiar to recipients.
Words Mean Something
If the Covid-19 pandemic is teaching us anything, it’s that the meaning of words matters. So I was interested to see that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently made a subtle change to the way it defined the words “vaccination” and “vaccine.”
Regarding the word “vaccination” the CDC changed the word immunity to protection. Specifically, the definition now says vaccination is “the act of introducing a vaccine into the body to produce protection to a specific disease.”
The significance of that change comes into sharper focus when you consider how the CDC changed the definition of vaccine.
Here’s the original definition: “a product that stimulates a person’s immune system to produce immunity to a specific disease.”
Here’s the revised definition: “a preparation that is used to stimulate the body’s immune response against diseases.”
Why does this matter? Skeptics accuse the CDC of changing the definitions because the current Covid-19 vaccines are being viewed more as therapeutics than as inoculations.
For its part, the CDC is saying that no vaccine has ever been 100% effective and that the wording change was made to reflect that.
Should You Buy NVAX Stock?
NVAX stock is currently trading slightly below the consensus price set by analysts and short interest has risen sharply in the last month. Plus, institutional ownership in this stock has been dropping recently. That means the stock may not present an ideal setup at the moment.
More pressure is being applied to the unvaccinated. By offering a familiar approach to vaccines, there may be an opportunity for Novavax, but the company must get an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for that to happen. If it could get that approval in time to serve as a booster shot for those who are already vaccinated all the better.
As David Moadel wrote, the CDC has said that, although the Novavax vaccine has not received FDA approval , nor is it recommended by the CDC, individuals who have participated in the Novavax PREVENT-19 Phase 3 clinical trial “would meet the criteria to be considered fully vaccinated two weeks after they have completed the vaccine series.”
None of this means that the Novavax vaccine will receive approval. However, skepticism about the current vaccines isn’t going away. That means there’s room for a familiar approach, and that would be bullish for NVAX stock.
On the date of publication, Chris Markoch did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.
Chris Markoch is a freelance financial copywriter who has been covering the market for seven years. He has been writing for InvestorPlace since 2019.